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After cancer, Mittelstadt finds her feet again

Kim Mittelstadt ’90 went from playing basketball on Doane’s winningest athletic team to wishing she could just have the energy to walk.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and found herself physically drained. On days she felt well enough to go on walks, her goal was to reach the street corner, two houses down from her own.

“It was hard going from being physically active playing basketball and coaching my kids to wishing that I could get to the fire hydrant on the corner,” Mittelstadt said. “There are so many emotions and so many physical things that you can’t do. That puts life in huge perspective.”

After undergoing a lumpectomy and eventually a mastectomy and hysterectomy, Mittelstadt had to do 10 weeks of chemotherapy.

“I don’t have a memory of everything I went through because of the chemo,” she said, “but just to know what it’s like to live hour by hour and just hoping I could get up and take (a) shower–you can’t do it without the support of family and friends.”

Five years later and her cancer in remission, Mittelstadt is finally off medication and doing well.

“I’m doing perfectly fine, trying to get back to a physical point of feeling good again,” she said. “I’m getting my life on track and trying not to think about cancer everyday. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. That is part of the mental game you have to play; you have to be mentally tough everyday.”

Part of feeling good again came from helping to fundraise for different cancer organizations. She became an advocate of the American Cancer Society and breast cancer in particular, forming her own fundraising team in October 2008 for the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk.

The Making Strides walk was just the beginning of her fundraising efforts.

“In 2008 when I was done with chemo the first part of August that year, I was kind of in a funk,” Mittelstadt said. “I heard about the walk and I told my friends about it and they offered to walk with me. We showed up at the Making Strides walk and saw the support of families and the people that had been affected–survivors themselves and their support circles–and I thought, ‘That is what I need to be a part of.’”

During the course of her treatment, some medical expenses had been spared because of different grants available. So, Mittelstadt wanted to fundraise in order to give back the money that helped her. Over the past four years, she’s helped raise thousands of dollars through the fundraiser Go PINK–Power In Finding a Kure. Mittelstadt has also attended Doane’s Relay for Life event, and hopes to attend again this Friday at 6 p.m. in Fuhrer Field House.

“It’s nice to walk there (in the survivor lap),” she said. “Doane is just a really special place for me and it’s just a place that all of us who graduate from Doane would feel that way.”

Photo of Kim Mittelstadt courtesy of Anderson Studio, Lincoln, Neb.